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Peter Hitchens On Britain In The 1960s

 

Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain (2000;

Quartet Books Limited, London), 26.

 

‘[T]he survival of the fabled Victorian, Sir Winston, into the modern age somehow postponed a final recognition of the truth about Britain. As young men are restrained by the survival of a once-feared father, and liberated by his death, so the new, less majestic England could not properly be born until this symbol of lost times was safely out of the way. Just as President Kennedy’s murder signalled the end of the USA’s era of white-bread suburban innocence, Churchill’s death compelled those living in his shadow to grow up, very quickly, in ways which he would not much have liked. It is a sad truth that young men often go to old men’s obsequies mainly to make sure that they are dead, and many young men in the Britain of 1965 were relieved and liberated once the elegiac ceremonies were over. Or at least they felt they were. There is another quite simple reason for the restlessness of the time – the fact that the great “bulge” of children born in the years immediately after the war were about to come of age, at twenty-one as they still did then, and so had started to anticipate the new freedoms of adult life. Those who had matured before this date had all grown up in the deep shadow of the war generation, whose heroes and footsoldiers were still in their full vigour. Now, with their leader dead, these veterans were suddenly middle-aged, and knew that they too must eventually step aside.’

 

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